Opposition to Civil Rights and Support for Big Banks in KY-SEN

The Senate primaries in Kentucky grow stranger and stranger by the day. In the Repub primary, Dr. Rand “Ron’s Son” Paul has said that he opposes all civil rights legislation, and in the Democratic primary, you have to wonder if Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo would have been only the second Democrat to oppose Wall Street reform in yesterday’s cloture vote.

In an editorial refusing to endorse either candidate in the Repub primary, the Louisville Courier Journal wrote of Paul and secretary of state Trey Grayson (emphasis my own):

[Grayson] is positioning himself to be a loyal foot soldier in Mr. McConnell's destructive, dishonest effort to undermine virtually every initiative from the Obama administration. The trouble with Dr. Paul is that despite his independent thinking, much of what he stands for is repulsive to people in the mainstream. For instance, he holds an unacceptable view of civil rights, saying that while the federal government can enforce integration of government jobs and facilities, private business people should be able to decide whether they want to serve black people, or gays, or any other minority group. He quickly emphasizes that he personally would not agree with any form of discrimination, but he just doesn't think it should be legislated…

Mr. Grayson seems to have been blindsided by [Paul’s insurgent success]. He seems physically and mentally dazed, and uncomfortable in his own skin as he responds by rolling out extreme right-wing positions. His rapid movement to the far right leaves many wondering what he really stands for.

One of the two Democratic candidates isn’t much better. Yesterday, Nebraska’s Ben Nelson was the only Democrat to oppose Wall Street reform, but if Mongiardo were a sitting Senator he might have been the second. At a recent forum, Mongiardo said that “too-big-to-fail” isn’t a problem: “These banks and these insurance companies didn't fail because they got too big; they failed because they deregulated. Regulations had been in place for decades and generations.” His Democratic opponent, however, state Attorney General Jack Conway, has shown a sharper understanding of the problem: “Some of those companies got too big and it's because they had these silly derivatives that they hid from the public.” To be fair, the scandal-plagued Mongiardo has called on fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell to stop blocking regulatory reform, but he was awful silent while McConnell was lying up a storm about the bill’s substance, and has virtually echoed the Repub leader’s language on health care reform.

Thankfully, polls show that this race can be a bright spot for Democrats in an otherwise dark year – but it won’t be worth it if we nominate Mongiardo. He might be a little better than the two Repubs, but who cares when the guy’s already to the right of Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln? If he’s this conservative now, how much worse will he get outside of a Democratic primary?

Conway has picked up a lot of momentum lately, including support from the Kentucky Professional Firefighters Association, Steelworkers Local 14581, Teamsters Local Union No. 651, Daily Kos, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and the Northern Kentucky Enquirer. He’s closed the gap in the polls against Mongiardo, and can win the primary on May 18 – but only if the Netroots put him over the top. Please, help a progressive brother out and donate to the Conway campaign.

KY-Sen: Conway Supports Health Reform, Mongiardo Does Not

Bumped. -N

Every single Senate Democrat supports America's health insurance reform. This will no longer be the case if Dan Mongiardo, rather than Jack Conway, wins Kentucky's open Senate seat.

In the Democratic primary to replace retiring Republican Jim Bunning, Kentuky state Attorney General Jack Conway supports the historic legislation signed into law today while Lt. Gov. Mongiardo does not. In a press release, Conway criticized the bill's industry sweetners but expressed support for the larger package:

Last night, Congress passed historic health care reform. This momentous legislation will stop insurance company abuses, lower costs for businesses and individuals, and provide affordable coverage for up to 654,000 Kentuckians who are uninsured. The Senate will vote on the bill soon, and if I had the honor of being Senator, I would vote for it.

This bill is not perfect. It does not give Medicare bulk purchasing power for prescription drugs, which could save taxpayers $200 billion dollars. Unfortunately, Washington struck a deal with the big pharmaceutical companies that took this issue off the table. 

If I am elected Senator, the first piece of legislation I introduce will repeal this special interest giveaway. To truly reform the health care system, we need to cut health care costs, while maintaining benefits and this $200 billion dollars in savings needs to be part of the solution.

Kentucky voters deserve to know where their candidates stand on the issues. I support this bill while my opponent has said he would 'throw it all out and start over.' According to CNHI, my opponent's position is 'basically the same line used by Sen. Mitch McConnell.'

There is a clear choice in this race. I support health care coverage for all Kentuckians while my opponent, Daniel Mongiardo, agrees with Mitch McConnell and Republicans who want to revert to the broken health care system of our past.

If you were mad at Joe Lieberman or Ben Nelson for their work on the bill, then wait'll you get a hold of Dan Mongiardo.

Unfortunately, Mongiardo is running well ahead of Conway, who needs our help. Taking Jim Bunning's seat will help blunt Democratic losses elsewhere and move us toward a more progressive caucus. I've started an Act Blue page for open seats we can win; click here to donate to the first candidate there, Jack Conway's Senate campaign.

Democrats Air First Ads In KY-Sen

Both Democrats running in Kentucky's Senate primary aired their first ads this week. Here's Attorney General Jack Conway's:

The other Democrat in the race, Lt. Gov. Mongiardo, is also up with his first ad. He gets away from the white background look but focuses even more on the outgoing Bunning rather than the current GOP opponents. Worse yet, both candidates have purchased only limited airtime while the Republicans, Rand Paul and Trey Grayson, are blanketing the state. One piece of good news, however, is that both Democrats attack Jim Bunning and the Repubs, whereas the Repubs attack each other.

This race matters, and Conway is the right candidate. We’re going to lose some incumbent Democrats this November. It’s hard to tell exactly who and quite how many this early, but some are goners for sure. The best way to offset those losses is to flip some open Republican seats. New Hampshire and Missouri may be our best bets, but let’s not rule out Kentucky.  

Democrats don’t get the pleasure of running against Bunning, but an open seat in a state with a Democratic Governor and a bitter GOP primary is nothing to sneeze at, either. All hypothetical General Election match-ups (some of which are out of date) have the Repubs ahead, but with one Rasmussen exception for Mongiardo-Paul, always below 50%.

From mountaintop removal mining to gay rights, Conway has definitely shown himself to be the progressive in this race. He'll make a better candidate, too, as he doesn’t carry Mongiardo’s baggage. They may be evenly matched against Repubs now but Mongiardo was unable to beat Bunning in 2004, and his own profane comments about the seat and Gov. Beshear could come back to haunt him in the general.

It seems to me that Jack Conway, who only slightly led Mongiardo in the last poll (December), is a candidate just waiting for Netroots support. The primary is May 18.

Friends Don't Let Friends Blow Away Mountaintops

The Hotline's Reid Wilson had a very interesting article earlier this week about the Democratic Senate primary in Kentucky. It boils down to this: one candidate supports mountaintop removal mining, the other doesn't. Attorney General Jack Conway values the environment and the health of his potential constituents; Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo does not.

We've heard from several KY Dem strategists who say the issue could be a factor in the primary; the coal industry plays an outsized role in KY, even though it accounts for less than 1% of the jobs in the state. But it's an issue that pits Mongiardo's base of rural Dems squarely against Conway's urban Dems.

If mountaintop mining plays a major, or decisive, role in the primary, it could signal which Dem faction is dominant in state politics.

Polls have showed both candidates leading, and national Dems who once favored Conway have modified their language toward Mongiardo. They claim to be happy with either candidate. Still, the eventual winner is unlikely to emerge from the race unscathed; political watchers are hard-pressed to remember a primary that has turned this negative this quickly.

I haven't paid much attention to this race. Given his performance against Bunning in 2004, I probably would have been inclined to support Mongiardo. But this does it for me: I'll be donating to Conway's campaign. Why do I care so much about mountaintop removal mining? A very simple summary from Earth Justice gets right to it:

Mountaintop removal coal mining, often described as "strip mining on steroids," is an extremely destructive form of mining that is devastating Appalachia. In the past few decades, over 2,000 miles of streams and headwaters that provide drinking water for millions of Americans have been permanently buried and destroyed. An area the size of Delaware has been flattened. Local coal field communities routinely face devastating floods and adverse health effects. Natural habitats in some our country's oldest forests are laid to waste.

Earth Justice provides a number of ways to help them fight mountaintop removal mining - signing petitions, sending comments to the EPA, writing to the President, etc. Here's a new one: Support Jack Conway for U.S. Senate. Conway isn't exactly a supporter of cap-and-trade, but that may be a non-issue by January 2011. Right now, I'm more concerned with Mongiardo's enthusiastic backing of 0.9% of his state's jobs rather than 100% of the nation's health and environment.

Way back in April, which is admittedly quite dated, Conway did better in head-to-head general election matchups than Mongiardo. On a related note, earlier this week Jerome noted that Mongiardo somewhat backs Obama's troop surge and Conway is mostly opposed. As he said, "It's pretty clear whom is the progressive in the primary."

There's more...

US Senate Democratic candidates lining up against Afghanistan surge

I blogged about this earlier in the week, and sure enough, its becoming the trend. In Kentucky, Jack Conway, who is the AG running for the open Senate seat, has come out saying he "expresses reservations about President Obama's plan for troop surge" and that Obama has not adequately expressed a rationale for sending more troops.

Conway's position is in opposition to KY LG Dan Mongiardo, who stated yesterday that he was "inclined to support a troop surge in Afghanistan." Combine that with the contrast over mountaintop mountaintop removal for coal, which Conway opposes and Mongiardo supports, and it's pretty clear whom is the progressive in the primary.

So that's Kentucky.

In Ohio, Jennifer Brunner has already come out opposed to the surge of troops. I've not seen anything from her opponent, LG Lee Fisher. [edit., Lee Fisher does have a position, saying that 30,000 additional troops are not required.]

In Massachusetts, Martha Coakley joined Mike Capuano in opposition.

In Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter has stated he is opposed, and Joe Sestak is in favor, and its become a central defining issue between the two candidates.

In Illinois, one of the leading candidates, David Hoffman, has put out a statement saying: " I am skeptical that our mission in Afghanistan should be to spend years rebuilding the country with our armed forces at potentially great cost of American life."

These are all open primaries, where the candidates have their ears much closer to the ground of Democratic voters than those in DC  currently do. I expect that we will see plenty of primary opportunities develop against incumbents whom are in Democratic strongholds that go along with support of the surge.

Look, when your allies are Byron York ("Obama keeps his Afghan promise") and Sarah Palin ("I support President Obama's decision"), you're on the wrong side of the issue.

There's more...

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